Srinagar, Feb 21: Having already given thousands of kanals of state land as firing range, the ruling PDP-BJP government has defined over 404 kanals as an area for carrying out “periodically” field firing and artillery practice for a period of ten years in Poonch district of Jammu.
As per a notification issued here, the government has sought objections from the people within two months.
“In pursuance of sub-section (3) of section 9 of the Maneuvers, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938 notice is hereby given that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir intend to authorize the carrying out Field Firing and Artillery Practice (at village Jhullas, Tehsil Haveli) for ten years. Objections, if any, may be communicated to District Magistrate, Poonch within a period of two months,” reads a notification issued according to news agency GNS.
In October last year, the state government declared thousands of kanals of state land as the firing range in Akhnoor district of Jammu for ten years.
On 8 June last year, the government declared more than 82 kanals of land to be used by the army for firing and artillery use in Udhampur.
In March last year, the state government declared nearly 5 lakh kanals of state land as firing range in cold desert of Leh in state’s Ladakh region, bordering with China, for five years
Earlier, the government notified a large chunk of land in Ramban to be used for firing and artillery purposes by the army.
Sources said that the Army has been provided a large chunk of land after the government refused to renew the lease of 10 firing ranges in the state which expired in 2014 including Tosa Maidan meadow.
The Army had been using the meadow for artillery firing range for over five decades since 1964 and the government’ decision against extending the lease followed stiff public resentment.
Nearly 50 residents living around the Tosa Maidan meadow are said to have lost their lives while hundreds of others were rendered crippled for life allegedly to stray or unexploded shells left by the army.
As soon as army vacated Tosa Maidan, it sought a new spot for lease: another meadow called Bajpathri in Bandipora which is also surrounded by tiny villages. The plan, after protests, was shelved along with a similar proposal to set up an artillery firing range near the Line of Control at Tulail, in Gurez area of the north Kashmir district. The Tosa Maidan meadow officially opened to the public as a tourist destination last year. (GNS)